Monthly Archives: March 2010

India & Suicide As A Political Statement

Not sure what to make of this other than to simply be shocked:

Sai Kumar Meegada, a 20-year-old straight-A chemical engineering student at a prestigious university here, came home from breakfast one morning early this month, slipped a length of clothesline around his neck, tied it to the ceiling fan in his dorm room and hanged himself.

“For the people of Telangana, this is my final salute,” said a note he left, referring to the decades-old struggle to create a separate region in Andhra Pradesh, a large state in southern India. “My final and last request is take my body to the legislative assembly. Goodbye.”

With that, Mr. Meegada became one of a surprising number of people — many of them young and educated, with bright futures awaiting them — to have committed suicide over the battle to carve out India’s 29th state. Some estimates have attributed more than 200 suicides to the cause.

But these politically motivated deaths are just one aspect of a troubling trend. Suicide has become something of a phenomenon in India, especially in the south, which now has one of the highest suicide rates in the world — a fact that has both puzzled and alarmed public health experts.

Suicides by indebted farmers are frequently reported in the news media and pointed to as a sign that India has forgotten its rural poor. But according to Indian government statistics, bankruptcy or poverty provoke less than 5 percent of Indian suicides. A family conflict, a broken love affair or an illness is a more likely spur.

Then there are politics. The number of ideologically motivated suicides in India doubled between 2006 and 2008, the last year for which statistics were available, according to the government. While the overall number remains small, mental health experts say these deaths illustrate the increasing stress on young people in a nation where, elections notwithstanding, the masses often feel powerless.

NY Times

Vaguely interesting. I have no idea how killing oneself for a small news blip in the local paper is going to aid the overall cause; it would make more sense to campaign and work and actively seek attention to the cause as opposed to give it all up for… This?

How easy WWII would have been if the Japanese and Germans merely killed themselves in protest for the US entrance into the war.

The world is a strange place.

There is certainly something that is happening wrong, on a social level, when this is becoming a viable option for people.

President Opening Oil Exploration (Possible Drilling)

This must come as a large surprise to the many people who thought of Obama as being someone on the left, and this is worthy of being chronicled:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday.

The proposal — a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations — would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean.

Under the plan, the coastline from New Jersey northward would remain closed to all oil and gas activity. So would the Pacific Coast, from Mexico to the Canadian border.

The environmentally sensitive Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska would be protected and no drilling would be allowed under the plan, officials said. But large tracts in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska — nearly 130 million acres — would be eligible for exploration and drilling after extensive studies.

NY Times

As per usual, the Times are phrasing it a little funny to give you the impression that Obama has already green lighted drilling in these areas. We know that is not the case. Rather, we should be aware that this is simply opening it up for the exploration for oil and possible future drilling.

It makes sense and I do not disagree with the policy — it just ought to be thrown out there and brought to your attention.

On Children

Image

Children are profound because they give us insight into what a human being is when they are fresh and new and not overly abstract or bothered. They are an uncorrupted form of ourselves. They demonstrate what I believe is the skeleton of human thought and emotion:

They are quick to laugh and they are quick to cry. They will laugh about the small things, they will cry about the small things. They will laugh when they are confused and they will cry when they are frustrated.

Children laugh when I simply lower my voice and say something slower to them during class. Because it is different. Because it doesn’t happen a lot. Because it is new.

Because everything is New to children, everything is something that needs to have an emotional reaction, whether positive (laughter and smiles) or negative (tears and tantrums).

Children are like drunks: their reactions are extreme to simple things, and their emotions become true and raw. A better word to describe what is expressed is Bonseong, because it is the concept of a raw and natural interior of a human being, and that is what children do: express the bonseong without the corruption.

Next time you are drunk, think a little bit about this, and try to understand the Natural Raw that is inside of you, and try to bring that to the surface. It is literally like staring at yourself in a mirror and thinking that, for a split second, you saw your Soul flash before your eyes. Sometimes when I drink I feel like I know myself better than when I am not drinking.

Children seek your approval — just as all humans subconsciously seek the approval of others, a child will do this in more obvious and extreme ways, by literally copying everything that you do.

And they are good at it. There are few people in their 20s and 30s who are Korean and can say “Verv.” They all say “Burb.” But in 2 to 3 tries a child can usually properly say “Verv,” because they literally stare at your mouth while you speak and imitate the formation of your lips and teeth.

Because their brains are uncorrupted by a complete molding of a lingual format into them, they are capable of it. That seems profound to me: the less you have in your brain, the more you can achieve linguistically. I think we can learn from this that if we were to destroy our preconceived notions about certain concepts and think Clearly, as a Child, we could think of something more profound. I am trying to do this.

A child in Monterey, California saw me walk into a Quiznos sometime during the summer of 2004. She said:

“Daddy, why does that man have drawings on all his arms?”
“Those are not drawings. Those are tattoos.”
“Daddy, I want to get a tattoo, too.”

This was a good demonstration of the innocence of children: they understand a tattoo as a drawing on a body, and as people who appreciate drawings, they see tattoos as a positive. If children ruled the world, we’d all draw what we like on our arms, and we’d all walk around with pretty pictures of awesome animals and city-scapes on our bodies. What harm exists in art? And who wouldn’t want to carry art on themselves?

Because they have no preconceived notions they can appreciate things better than adults. And if we destroy our notions of them, we can also appreciate things better. Not only do we grow intellectually through Emptying our mind, but we grow aesthetically.

A child is also Quick to Anger and Quick to Forgive. But their Anger is different. When a child feels hurt by something, they ask, “Why did you hurt me?” in their expression. There is a sense of shock and awe. When an adult is hurt by someone, they do their best to hide this fact.

Adults are dishonest to themselves with their own emotions. Children are so utterly honest about how they feel they will let the world know.

Women are more connected to themselves than men because they are less likely to hide it, and this is also why in Taoist tradition it is believed that women have a unique ki and strength. A man is just Yang energy, he is the Heavens, but the Taoists knew about volcanoes, and they believed inside of a woman (represented by Earth), the Yin energy has a core of Yang energy, as well, and thus is a more complex lifeform. Maybe that’s true.

What I recommend to you to try to do differently in your day to day life is the following:

– Empty your mind of preconceived notions of other people and of ideas. You will be able to see beautiful for beautiful and ugly for ugly, because when you classify things into systematic reasoning your system will fail you, and you will fail to see some of these things.

Systems literally state “it is good to be X, so it is not good to be Y, because it is not X.” (Of course it is more complex than this but you get the idea). What if we were capable of appreciating both X and Y? Wouldn’t that be nice?

– Be honest with your emotions. It is too much to ask an adult to be ready or willing to cry over spilled milk but it is not too much to ask an adult to express the fact that they are wounded when they are wounded, and happy when they are happy.

You cannot grow as a human being unless you are honest with your emotions and do not lie to yourself. You must feel them purely. You must feel them in solid colors. Never deny that you are sad. Never deny that you are happy. Let everything naturally come up from your gut unfiltered by the brain.

– You subconsciously want to be accepted by everyone around you and children fulfill this by laughter & smiles. When you laugh and you smile you will produce this in others and gain acceptance.

If you smile at a stranger one of two things will happen:
– They will look away.
– They will smile back.

Do you know why they look away? Because they would smile if they kept looking. Humans naturally, as we are similar to herd animals, imitate the expressions and emotions of those around them.

If I smile at someone I know, who I know doesn’t look away, even if there is nothing to smile about, their reaction will always be the same no matter who the person:

They will smile back at me and say “What? What is it?” and they will feel happiness even though it is literally reasonless smiling.

Children are experts at charming other human beings through the expression of reasonless happiness.

And reasonless happiness — that is an amazing concept in itself.

Chuang-tzu was seen by some disciples jumping up and down and clapping his hand in a pattern while walking on a path one day. His disciples asked, “Master, why are you doing this?” All of them expected a profound answer as Chuang-tzu was always a man of profound words. And they received a profound answer:

“Because it’s fun.”

Christ also noted that we must become like little children to accept the Kingdom of God. I think that in some way this is a little bit of what he was talking.

I will end this by saying that I am honored and blessed to teach young children. I initially thought it would be boring because these children would have nothing profound to say — they would not be like the high school kids that I could have adult discussions with.

But I was wrong. And literally, everything that occurs is a lesson to me on what human beings can be like at the base of their souls.

Children have helped re-affirm that humanity is fundamentally good, and they have taught me to be a better person. I am indebted to this experience.

It is a privilege to teach.

Punk Rock Taught Me How To Save The World

I saw a picture last night that was taken by Yi Juyeong. It was from a punk rock concert I was at on Saturday night. The picture almost made me lose my breath, because I realized this is everything I have ever wanted, and this represents everything that I live for. And I think it could represent what everyone wants for themselves, whether it is exactly like this photograph or not. But I promise you, you want something like this:

Punk rock girl has punk rock boy holding the microphone, putting it towards her. He is smiling and he is saying: “Please, sing the line.”

Normal boy is in the center, and he is shouting with the passion of the moment; he approves of everything that is happening.

Spiky hair punk rocker has lost such control of himself that he is thrusting his fist out, pumping it wildly; he is doing his best to avoid knocking over everyone else in the picture because he is so full of the moment he is Lost To The World and Connected With The Entire Universe.

Punk rock girl is singing the Line.

She has closed her eyes and her whole body has gone stiff and rigid because literally every muscle of her, every fiber of her being, has been waiting and yearning to shout into that microphone.

The picture says everything: group acceptance and approval, of diverse people, lost in a moment of passion and happiness, dedicated to the fulfillment of their individuality.

In the moment of the picture, everything is right and could not be better. If humanity were to die, to end, I hope that this picture and only this picture was left, to tell the alien archeologists who we were and why we lived.

When I was 12 years old I went to a VFW dive bar with 4 other friends. We were wearing band shirts and jeans and tennis shoes, and we were scared as hell. We were careful. This is something we knew we already loved, and we were scared to have the people who loved what we love not love us.

We were going to a punk rock show and there were people who were 15 and 17 and even a lot of people who were 20 or even 30. When I went there, a 16 year old girl came up to me and asked me what my name was.

She told me she was a vegetarian and she told me how she loves all these various bands I had never heard of. She asked me what I thought. She asked me what I liked. She held the microphone for me, and I screamed the Line.

We were all different people, but we were all the same. Punks, skins, metalheads. Normal people. We all held the microphone for each other, and we all took turns screaming the Line. And The Line is whatever we want it to be, whatever is inside of us.

And after another human being came up to me and wanted to know who I was, and cared, and had something interesting to say, I knew that no matter what happened during the rest of my life, I knew where I could go to scream my Line, and I go there all the time, because all of us have a lot that we need to scream, and that is the only thing that makes us feel good and forget everything else.

I do not know what I would do or where I would be, and I am not sure how I could exist, if I did not discover this Expression of Humanity.

We need to save the world and how we are going to do it is pretty simple but very effectively.

We must remember the world will not be saved by politics or religion, because there are a million reasons to disagree and all of those reasons are right to other people. That’s OK.

But what we need to do is provide a hobby & a group to everyone — we need to give everyone their second family.

When people feel accepted and when people feel a close bond with others who have the same hobby, the same style, they can say what they want and do what they want.

When you are loved by other people, you will love yourself. When you love yourself, you will be happy. And when you are happy, there is no need to mock or scorn others.

If we can make a way to find everyone around us feel accepted and loved by some group of people, they will all close their eyes at the same time and they will all scream what they feel into a microphone, and we will all hold the microphone for them, and we will all be lost in this moment of sheer and utter madness, and every single problem in the world disappears.

When some people have the microphone held to their face, they make a good golf shot; or they talk about a movie they watched; or they fix a car engine with their friends. When some people hold the microphone out to somebody they are teaching them how to build a model boat, or they are telling someone some interesting statistics about a baseball player they like. Or they are helping somebody learn how to fly fish.

Figure out how to hold the microphone for somebody, and figure out how to scream.

Nobody will ever bother hurting another human being as long as somebody bothers to hold a microphone for them.

We have exactly four duties as human beings:

(1) To hold the microphone for someone else.
(2) To scream whatever we want when the microphone is held for us.
(3) To encourage other people to scream.

If you have to, grab the other persons hand and escort them to the microphone, and promise to scream with them while they scream so they feel less embarrassed. Sometimes, you even have to scream badly just to get someone to have the courage to scream. But do it. Every time somebody screams God is happy.

I think the basis of every moral or ethical action be measured by the Intention, and the Intention should always be to express oneself and to help others in their expression.

If we express ourselves honestly and truly, and if we care about what others express and help them in their expression, then we can Be Better Than We Are, Now.

Inside Everyone Is A Foreigner

 Being a foreigner means being from a different nation, from a different culture. A person who is not Native. Does not understand exactly what is happening or what is supposed to be happening and merely goes about things the way they see fit, borrowing from both the culture of the different land and their own. Or exclusively from their own.

In this regard, I have been a foreigner since I discovered punk music. Bob Stone pointed out that people used to think I spoke with an accent since I was 13. But it wasn’t an accent. But it was. It was just a foreigner speaking.

I think a lot of you have also been foreigners your entire lives, and living in a different country came easily because For Once you were a foreigner in the true sense of the word, and it no longer felt odd being a foreigner. It felt Truer than before.

When I do what I do I do not have Americans wondering why I do what I do and finding me odd; I have Koreans seeing what I do and attributing this to my foreign nature in the most non-judgmental sense. I felt more comfortable and more alive the moment I stepped into a place that I knew other people could not rote judge and appraise me by a known standard. I am recognized as someone from a place whose standard is unknown, and because it is unknown I can Be Who I Am without facing appraisal.

If we could all be Foreigners we would all be Happier because nobody would demand of us loyalty to standards and ideas that we wished we never had to subscribe to.

It is more welcoming to be a stranger in a strange land than to be a stranger in your homeland.

I will be a Foreigner no matter where I live until the day I die.

But every Friday and Saturday, every show, every concert. Every time I meet with my friends — that is a gathering of Foreigners.

And yes, we are still foreigners to each other, but we are also Foreigners together.

Fung Yu-lan said there are four stages of human consciousness; the first stage is to behave by your natural standards as a human. The second is to behave by the standards set by society and culture. The third is to behave to higher standards for the benefit of society. The fourth is to behave to the highest standards for the fulfillment of the Eternal Path of the Universe.

Most people behave only according to the second stage. It is a privilege and an honor to strive for the fourth stage.

I do not think about politics the way that I used to because there is more than one way to skin a cat. Rather, I think about skinning a different cat. I think of the context of the universe. I no longer think of the context of the political state.

Because we strive to be part of the Universe we are foreigners to people who strive to be part of a smaller society.

A wise man once said “Hell is others.” I did not know the meaning of this until I wrote what is above.

But also, Heaven is others. Every person is born with a metaphysical substance inside of them that naturally points them in the direction of striving to be the best human they can be, and it means being good to others. This later becomes corrupted through our emotional expressions said the philosopher Yi Go.

Inside every person we see on the street is someone who should & could be our friend and mentor; but through the natural worldly degradation it is lost and others become Hell because they are judgmental.

They are judgmental only because it is the nature of humanity to categorize and classify. If we were to view every person as an entirely different situation than the other we would be running the risk of being cheated or scammed by others, being taken advantage of. But oddly, it is because we categorize and classify each other we scam one another, we cheat one another.

To classify and categorize other humans on whether or not they are “in our Pack” or “our of our Pack” is a bestial relic we ought abolish. It is the thing left that gives rise to fear and pain in one another.

Everyone is a foreigner because everyone is different, and everyone ought to be different and expressive of their differences. Nobody should allow society to define them and their behaviors.

But forgive them for they do not know what they do.

Society ought to be organized with the understanding of the Individual being the smallest and most importnat part, and the customs of respect and courtesy ought to exist to honor one another’s inner selves.

I guess it is like what Jon Bishop said:

I have to view everyone as an extended member of my family. And in that sense, I have to believe what is inside of me is also inside of them.

Inside everyone is a foreigner.

And we all live in the context of too many societies: our neighborhoods, our work places, our cities and towns and our states and provinces and our Countries and our Races and our Likes and Dislikes.

We should all strive to live in the context of the Universe.

Saturday Night: Bloody Head

Saturday night we go to the Geuk-do punk show. I know something is happening here because the show costs 10,000 won and Shim Hyeonbeom says to me: “Burb, it’s OK. We charge much now but next show will be cheap.”

Great! There will be a next show.

I love the hardcore shows and I have fun there, but the pinnacle of my life is the punk show; the sloppy drunks with bad haircuts playing fast, hard music with gibbering lyrics.

Bob Stone showed up and the punk show scared away all of his friends but for one who turned out to be a quite cool guy named Greg. Bob Stone and I have been friends for 13 years. That is more than half of our lives.

We rocked out. Singers shove microphones in my face for scream lines.

Bob bought me a bottle of Jagermeister which I drank wholeheartedly. I blasted off to oblivion and took a few people with me.

At some point during a pit I fell down and cut my head open badly. there is blood on my jeans, blood on my hands, blood on Bob’s hands and blood on the pillow.

I remember giving a cute punk chick a drink of my booze and promising to meet her later for a drink. I never was able to follow through with that promise but I made fast friends with a Finlander who also loves Lifelover and all the good Black Metal and Black Rock.

Meaningless Immigration Reform

Sometimes it is embarrassing to be an American — not just because of the often unfair misconceptions foreigners have about us, and not just because of a lot of the failures of an education system that often leaves people globally ignorant, but also because of how we try to fix problems… It is as if there is no critical thinking skills in Congress:

Two senators, a Democrat and a Republican, unveiled the outlines on Thursday of a proposal to overhaul the immigration system, which would require illegal immigrants to admit they broke the law before they could gain legal status and require all workers in the United States to carry a biometric identity card to prove that they are eligible to work.

First, why can’t these people look at countries like South Korea that have quite a reliable system of weeding out illegals?

In Korea, you require a passport number or an Alien Registration card to do nearly any task necessary for living — whether it is the renting of the house or the opening of a bank account. Heck, even creating internet website accounts requires you to present some form of official documentation.

Of course, it is still possible to work ‘illegally’ but usually in these situations it is still a matter of being legally inside the country and merely working illegally.

The concept that by making this ID card as a prerequisite to work is meaningless until it begins effecting things like receiving health care, opening bank accounts, renting and purchasing real estate.

If illegal aliens were medically treated and then reported to authorities or could not easily find lodging it would be a whole different world.

But congress is crippled by strange constitutional interpretations and the mere fact that no one actually wants to do anything…

Except make them admit that they were ‘wrong’ and committed a ‘crime.’

This sounds like something your parents would make you do — “Now Jacob, be sure to say your sorry! You’ve been a bad, bad boy!”

What kind of government behaves like parents?

Those moves followed like clockwork plans that White House officials had laid out in recent days to the leaders of immigrant advocacy groups that have summoned many thousands of supporters to a march on Sunday in Washington.

NY Times

I hope you are happy that your major press channels refer to groups advocating the rights of ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS as “immigration advocacy groups.”

This is deceptive and irresponsible journalism that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

NOTE: If I could become a permanent resident of South Korea by breaking immigration law… I’d be halfway there right now.

Dream #12

Another odd dream.

The dream started with me celebrating the fact that I was returning to America to do something that would improve the entire course of my education and future. It felt like winning a million dollars.

However, when I arrived I was ushered away to a military base and it became clear that I was being forced to rejoin the military.

At first it didn’t seem so bad because a lot of my old friends were there. My father had even showed up. We all promised to go to the bar to get drinks but then I could not find them… Later I did find them.

We went to a bar that looked like an old house. We got drunk. We went home. But I forgot something, so I went back.

When I went back there were a lot of Korean bboys there dancing. I avoided them and found my things and sat down for another drink because magically other people I knew were there. I had gotten a stamp on my hand that had someone’s phone number on it.

One of the bboys said “Hey, you got numbers tattood on your hand? Where did you get them?” (he was speaking in Korean)

I did not feel like talking to him and wanted to be a jerk, so I said, “I got them in the Holocaust.”  I am not sure why I would say such a morbid joke.

It turns out they all spoke English and I had to flee the scene on foot, and hide. Later they found me and beat me up.

The next day when I woke up I noticed that I was also very overweight. It was perplexing because it was… quite overweight. I justified losing the fight on being overweight and felt preposterous.

All in all, this was a confusing dream.

A Surprsing Gesture

One of my philosophy teachers just the other day called me up after class to share some words; he inquired as to whether or not class is going well with me and I confessed that I had great trouble keeping up during Chinese character class. It was if he had read my mind:

He gave me the Confucian Analects in Chinese in a form meant for beginning students to learn the characters as we go, and he also gave me a book called the Essence of Chinese philosophy and suggested I do my book report on that as opposed to on the one that all of the other students are doing, saying that I will already be doing enough reading in Korean and working hard on that front, so I might as well take a break.

I found it all to be a very amazing act of good will that went above and beyond. I highly doubt American professors often give Korean or Chinese students books in their native tongue to do their reports on.

It sort of confirmed what Hoonmin was telling me: he thought I would get a lot of help from professors who want to see a Westerner succeed in a Korean university. I believe that is the case.

I will not let the kind acts of others go to waste.

李법무, 사형집행 재개 가능성 시사

물론 사형제도가 미국에도 큰 토론이다. 어떤 주에 할 수 있고 다른 주에는 할 수 없어서 미국인들이 아직도 토론 많이 하다.

내 보기에는 아동성폭행이나 연쇄살인/간강 사건에 필요함.

청송교도소서 사형집행시설 설치검토 지시…”엄중격리 필요”
“실제 사형집행 염두에 두고 하는 것”

(청송=연합뉴스) 전성훈 기자 = 이귀남 법무부 장관이 16일 국내에서 13년째 중단된 사형집행이 재개될 가능성이 있음을 시사했다.

이 장관은 이날 흉악범들이 수용된 청송교도소를 방문한 자리에서 “청송교도소에도 사형집행시설을 설치해 1심에서라도 사형선고를 받은 흉악범을 수용해 엄격하게 관리하는 방안을 검토하라”고 지시했다.

부산 여중생 성폭행 살해 사건으로 아동 성범죄자 등 흉악 범죄자에 대한 사형제 찬반 논란이 고조되는 가운데 이 장관이 사형과 관련해 공식적인 언급을 한 것은 처음이다.

연합뉴스

이명박 대통령이 다시 실행하면 괜찮을거다.

내가 매일 고기 먹다. 매일  내  배가 고프니까 동물이 죽다…

그래서 다른 동물들도 이렇게 죽여버려괜찮습니다.